Fair keeping the beat

It seems that every big name in pop and rock music is back on the road these days, despite the soft economy.

Venues around the Southland are opening their doors to Boomer and Gen X fans who haven't worn side ponytails since the '80s or flannels since the '90s, but are once again rocking the look — as well as their tatty band T-shirts — to relive their glory days.

Keen to the trend is the Orange County Fair, whose theme for this year's month of fun from July 16 to Aug. 15 is "The Beat Goes On." Accordingly, the fair's annual concert series is packed with tributes to some of the biggest names in the world — as well as appearances by the real deal, including Train, Faith Hill, Blue Öyster Cult, ZZ Top and the B-52s.

But this summer also has seen a slew of tour cancellations, from Christina Aguilera to the Eagles; 10 shows of the newly returned Lilith Fair have been canceled due to slow sales, along with seven stops on the American Idols LIVE! Tour.

One of the most surprising postponements this summer was the second round of U2's gargantuan 360° Tour (and 170-ton, $40-million stage), which tore through Los Angeles last year in a much-feted series of shows that culminated in a bestselling live DVD.

Lead singer Bono suffered an accident while rehearsing in Germany just two weeks before the North American leg of the tour was to open, resulting in emergency back surgery and doctor's orders for months of rehabilitation and rest.

More than one million ticketholders were left showless for 2010, including tens of thousands of fans in Southern California who had planned to go to summer shows at venues like Angel Stadium in Anaheim.

Many have turned to tribute acts like Orange County-based The Joshua Tree, which seeks to emulate the boys from Dublin by using the same equipment, costumes and sound. Such tribute bands are taking the stage at concerts in parks and fairs around the country.

Like the band it impersonates, The Joshua Tree has seen its own share of unexpected opportunities since it played the O.C. Fair last summer. The band announced recently that its singer has departed the band, and the band is now seeking a replacement.

"The search for a new singer is going well," said guitarist Chas Alm, who performs as the Edge. "We have had several people respond wanting to audition, and more coming in every day."

Alm said the challenge is to find someone who is a great singer and who can mimic Bono's style.

"We have had some good singers audition with more scheduled to come in," Alm said. "We are committed to taking our time and finding the right person. We have been videotaping the auditions and showing the tapes to some of our longtime JT fans that are diehard U2 fans to get their feedback."

In the meantime, Shawn Brady, a singer from another world-class tribute band, Canada-based Elevation, will sing with the Joshua Tree at the O.C. Fair show.

"Brady is an amazingly talented performer and a really great guy," Alm said. "I first spoke with him seven years ago when we started The Joshua Tree, and he and his bandmates have been friends ever since. As a band, The Joshua Tree has always strived to capture that special something that makes seeing the real U2 live an amazing experience. Brady and his band also capture that something special, and I know he can help us make July 24 at the O.C. Fair a great night."

Along with the appearance at the Fair, The Joshua Tree has played throughout Southern California and Las Vegas, including the latter's Fremont Street Experience, where more than 30,000 people attended a New Year's Eve party.

But above all, Alm said, the band is composed of everyday folks with outside lives, who do what they do for the love of the music.

"We plan to continue with The Joshua Tree as long as it is still fun," Alm said. "We have always said if playing shows ever felt like work, then we would know it was time to stop. We all have professional careers and families that are very important to us. Where some people spend their weekends playing golf or working on home-improvement projects, we play in a tribute band. Life is good."

If You Go

What: The Joshua Tree, U2 tribute band

When: 8:15 p.m. July 24

Where: The Hangar, O.C. Fair, 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa

Cost: $12.50; includes fair admission

Information: OCfair.com or u2jt.com

Los Angeles Times Summer Concert Series at Pacific Amphitheatre:

The Pink Floyd Experience

Bad Company

July 17


July 18

Jeff Dunham

July 21

Martina McBride

July 22

Ziggy Marley

Common Sense

July 23

Faith Hill

Jennette McCurdy

July 24

Blue Oyster Cult


July 25

Adam Lambert


July 27-28

Julianne Hough

July 29

John Legend

July 30



Aug. 1

Sammy Hagar and The Wabos

Aug. 4

The B-52s

w/ DJ Richard Blade

Aug. 5



The Fab Four

Sgt. Pepper's Experience

Aug. 7



Aug. 8

Joan Jett & The Blackhearts w/Cherie Currie

Aug. 11

LeAnn Rimes

Aug. 12

"Weird Al" Yankovic

Aug. 13-14

ZZ Top

Aug. 15

Nightly Entertainment at the Hangar

Wild Child: Jim Morrison Tribute

July 16

Blasphemous Rumours: Depeche Mode Tribute

July 17

Dog 'N' Butterfly: Heart Tribute

July 18

Michael Jackson LaserSpectacular

July 21

Pink Floyd LaserSpectacular

July 22

Hotel California: Eagles Tribute

July 23

The Joshua Tree: U2 Tribute

July 24


July 25

Royal Crown Revue

July 28

Vitalogy: Pearl Jam Tribute

July 29

Journey Unauthorized: Journey Tribute

July 30

Led Zeppelin Live with Heartbreaker: Led Zeppelin Tribute

July 31

Mariachi Sol de Mexico de Jose Hernandez

Aug. 1

Purple Reign: Prince Tribute

Aug. 4

Wild Child: Jim Morrison Tribute

Aug. 5

Mark Wood and the Parrot Head Band: Jimmy Buffet Tribute

Aug. 6

Sweet & Tender Hooligans: Morrisey/Smiths Tribute

Aug. 7

Jumping Jack Flash: Rolling Stones Tribute

Aug. 8

The Grascals – Bluegrass

Aug. 11

Colin Hay of Men at Work

Aug. 12

Gary Hoey

Aug. 13

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